October 23, 2000
hen all of the angry, vile vituperations have died down, it turns out Andrew Golota is not a dog. What he is, is a lucky survivor.
Dazed and obtunded by pain of facial fractures and blood in the brain, limited by his inability to speak English, Golota strove to fight off his own corner, the referee Frank Garza, and 16,000 screaming fans and press. Somehow, doggedly he summoned up the will to face the avalanche of beer, popcorn and programs and walk out of the arena to his dressing room.
The injuries afflicted by the heavy hand of Mike Tyson are awesome. He had facial cuts, blood in the subarachnoid spaces, and fractures around the rim of the eye. Of particular danger to his life was the blood in the brain. If he comes to fight, that grows into a cerebral hemorrhage, which is the killer in boxing. For once the entire 40 years I have spent in boxing I have witnessed a ring death averted just as it was forming up. This we note sadly, because the fighter had the good sense to quit! If he doesn't quit, he's a dead man.
Relive the moment, and ask yourself an honest question. Would you have acted differently given what has just happened in two rounds?
Should corner Al Certo have insisted on Golota continuing to fight? Of course he should have. Had I, as a medical doctor, been in the corner, I would have done exactly what Al Certo did. Had referee Frank Garza the right to turn his back on Golota's attempt to tell him he was quitting? Of course he should have. Should the entire press section roar in disapproval? Yes, it is their business. Golota quit like the DOG he is. Was the public right to shower him with liquid refreshment and curses? Yes, they paid a big price to see a fight and were gypped.
Late news now has Golota suffering from a bulging disc in his cervical spin. If that ruptures you have a paraplegic on your hands. The type of severe punches he was taking from Tyson is just the exact type of force that would rupture the disc and cause full body paralysis below the neck.
The injuries are severe, but he should recover. The most important, the subarachnoid bleeding, was the beginning of a fatal injury, because he quit in time, this should abate on its own without complications. The cuts and facial fractures will heal on their own. The bulging cervical disc is treatable and he will have life long pain and discomfort but it is not fatal or dangerous if he leads a peaceful life. He must avoid any contact sports. Read this medical prognosis correctly: Golota will recover, and his life will return to normal.
What lessons are to be learned? None. No one did anything unusual. No one was privy to his injuries. There are no X-RAY machines in the corner.
Was Golota saved by being a DOG? I hate to say it, but yes. Any other fighter would have continued. It's the law of boxing. Keep fighting until they carry you out. Sadly, Golota, if he had any guts, would have been carried out paralyzed or dead.
For once let us all kneel and thank God for one man lacking the character to continue. It is a genuine miracle we have just witnessed.
And what of Iron Mike Tyson? All week long his quotes reeked of violence and death. He seemed to be talking himself into a violent act, and yet, but for the dog in Golota, he would have seen his rantings about death fulfilled. What supreme irony that it was not Mike who was in danger, but a calm, quiet, peaceful Andrew Golota.
The fight will make Iron Mike Tyson a huge favorite when he fights Lennox Lewis or Evander Holyfield. His punching power never diminished or questioned, will now be assigned some superhuman force. Not since Jack Demesey reeked havoc on Jess Willard over three rounds in Toledo, Ohio in 1918, has a heavyweight done that much damage.
Tyson who had announced this was his last fight was furious at the Golota withdrawal. Once again he was in the middle of an unusual fight with a questionable outcome. Could he never just knock out an opponent cleanly?
Obviously Mike Tyson was not to be blamed here. He did everything expected in a clean quiet manner. Today, in the light of the news on Golota, Tyson should be in church thanking God he had not taken a human life.
Will he fight again? Of course he will. Should he fight again? In my opinion Tyson needs a break with serious psychotherapy to try to help find himself. For this to happen Mike must first be aware of the screaming need he has to find himself, to build a stronger ego, to rid himself of self hate and of his many violent delusions.
I've always said "Someday Mike will either kill someone, or someone will kill Mike, or Mike will commit suicide." The prophecy almost came chillingly true in a boxing ring in Detroit.
There is still time, Mike, still time.
And that is my diagnosis.